Local actress 'gets involved' with Caucasian CIA agent in HBO drama

21 September 2013 / 3 years 1 month ago

Meet one of the stars in HBO Asia’s period drama Serangoon Road, 33-year-old Singaporean actress Pamelyn Chee.

She does not have big, doe-like eyes. Thank goodness. "I think because of my small eyes and the way I am, I'm luckier as I'm not typecast when I go to Channel 8. I've done a variety of different roles for them and I'm grateful."

According to a report on ST Communities, Chee adds: "There're so many pretty girls that having a different look might help sometimes."

In Channel 8 hit drama The Little Nyonya (2008), she played a liberal, educated woman. And in 2010, she took the lead role of firearms expert Vivian de Cruz in the Channel 5 action drama Point Of Entry.

But it is as spunky, aspiring sleuth Chen Su Ling on HBO Asia's period drama Serangoon Road, which premieres on Sunday, that she might gain a wider fanbase, given the pre-debut exposure it has in publications such as The Hollywood Reporter.

The character is a strong one, whose socio- political views often clash with those of the traditional Peranakan family she comes from. Su Ling does administrative work at Cheng Detective agency, owned by Patricia Cheng (Joan Chen). When Patricia's husband dies, Su Ling becomes an assistant to Sam Callaghan (Australian actor Don Hany) to uncover the truth behind the death.

Speaking to Life! after wrapping up her final scene in Serangoon Road, she tries to convince reporters that she is more Chinese than people think she is.

She says: "People have said that I'm very 'ang moh pai' (Hokkien for Western-oriented face).

But she adds with a laugh: "I spend a good part of my life speaking Mandarin to most people.

"I'm so superstitious. Most Chinese grow up with that and to rid yourself of it is pretty much impossible. I am more superstitious than my mum.

"Being in this line, you have to respect the place, so I do things such as offering prayers, incense and fruit."

Her mother is a retired property agent and her retiree father used to run a small business.

Just like Chee, her Serangoon Road character also goes against the grain, getting involved with Caucasian CIA agent Conrad (Michael Dorman).

In real life, Chee and Dorman have become good friends, bonding during filming and have even adopted a little ritual.

"We play a game where I bring him a song every time we come in for a scene, which kind of sets the tone for how the characters feel, and then he does the same thing," she says.

"For example, there's a scene where he comes back from Vietnam and visits me, and the song I picked for him was Lou Reed's Candy Says mixed with some Antony Hegarty."

She chose that mix because "there was something about that remix that was magical and dreamy - like two butterflies dancing, completely lost in each other, full of hope despite the sadness - which completely described the scene."

But an off-screen romance is out of the question for Chee and Dorman as she says "we're such good friends now that I cannot see him in a romantic way".

Ask if she is single and she turns coy: "I'm single if the right person is available. Let me find this right person."

With her Serangoon Road co-star Chin Han finding work in Hollywood - the Los Angeles-based Singaporean had a role in The Dark Knight (2008) and will star in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier - is she also thinking of trying her luck in Tinseltown too?

Chee, who studied at New York University, says frankly: "Everybody wants to go to Hollywood but what does that mean? They work very differently in New York, compared with Los Angeles.

"The good thing is that in Singapore, you're not stereotyped, but the grass is always greener on the other side. As actors, you are nomads, you want to travel just to see what it's like. It doesn't matter if you fail or succeed."

For now, she says she is happy working in Asia, she says, with quality drama shows such as Serangoon Road.

"I really want to work on great productions with good people who care, that's a priority. The work will speak for itself. Actors care a lot more about that than you think," she says.

"We're not all vain. We're not all trying to be famous."

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